Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation (or Restoration, for short) has selected Shadawn Smith as its next Executive Vice President for Arts & Culture, as well as the new executive director of The Billie Holiday Theatre (The Billie).
The announcement was made last week by the Brooklyn-based Restoration, the country's first-ever community-economic development corporation. The company specializes in providing services to predominantly minority and low-income communities of Central Brooklyn.
In her new role, Smith will be tasked with managing all arts and cultural initiatives and activities on Restoration’s campus, in addition to overseeing The Billie's roster of programs including Youth Arts Academy, Skylight Gallery, Black Arts Institute, etc.
Restoration says that Smith will play a significant part in the company's plans to transform its longtime Fulton Street headquarters into Restoration Innovation Campus, a mixed-use hub — centered around a completely updated Billie Holiday Theatre — which will dedicate up to 70,000 square feet of of studio, educational and programmatic space for the arts, according to a release.
“I am humbled by this opportunity to join Restoration and offer a new vision for artistic and cultural expression in the Central Brooklyn community," said Smith. "Anchored by the Billie Holiday Theatre, Restoration’s cultural initiatives function as an important introduction to the world of arts for local community members, delivering world-class performances and exhibitions right in the heart of Bed-Stuy. As we scale our offerings into Brooklyn’s premier performing and cultural arts center, I am eager to further deepen our ties to the community and to uplift the nation’s next generation of Black talent."
Prior to being hired on by Restoration, Smith had spent most of her 20-year career working in government affairs positions that featured involvement with the arts, community, and economic development.
Smith has previously held senior titles at NYC & Company, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC Council, as well as the NYC Department of City Planning.
“Shadawn is a talented cultural leader and experienced community organizer with the requisite skills to usher in the next chapter of Restoration’s cultural offerings,” said Blondel Pinnock, president and CEO of Restoration. “A proven bridge-builder, Shadawn’s breadth of experience engaging with communities across New York City will ensure that we continue to deliver the thought-provoking and culturally representative experiences our community wants to see."
Smith will officially assume her new position on June 1, 2023. Shortly after, she will undergo a listening tour to learn more about what the Central Brooklyn artists want to see in Restoration's cultural programming.
Over the coming months, Restoration says that it plans to unveil the details of its cultural plan and additional opportunities that the community can expect to see once the Innovation Campus is finished.
Restoration will also be hosting "Beyond The Stage: Taking Bed-Stuy Worldwide" — the first of a series of Town Hall events in which community members can meet the company's new president and CEO Blondel Pinnock, as well as check out the new Innovation Campus in the works — on May 17th, at 5:30 p.m. in Restoration's lobby.
For more information, head over to the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation website.